The curious case of Kenya in Somalia

It was probably only a matter of time. After years of consternation about the crisis unfolding on its northern border, yesterday Kenyan troops at last made their move and entered Somalia, chasing down the militants who allegedly kidnapped aid workers in a refugee camp earlier this week.

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What’s going on in central Kenya?

Kenyan Pundit, a blogger based in Johannesburg, is blogging about rumors of conflict between Kenya’s indigenous Samburu people and government forces. (The Samburu are a semi-nomadic tribe, in north-Central Kenya, and their traditional lifestyle is under a lot of pressure from population growth in Kenya and the loss of cattle-grazing land.) Kenyan Pundit is aggregating news reports and reports from eye-witnesses. Here’s what she has to say:

“Turns out, my cursory research has unearthed more questions than answers. And very disturbing questions at that.

The first stories I came across in the local media, were the typical fighting over resources/pasture/bandits ones.

How six cops can be shot dead by cattle rustlers is a whole other can of worms relating to whether the government is really in charge of North Eastern province and whether it really cares…but I digress.

More recent stories begin to hint at an ethnic element to the fighting talking of organized forced evictions of the Samburu and Turkana from their grazing lands. The local PC appears to be, in not so many words, clueless…”

If you go back through news about the Samburu and the area of Isiolo, you can see a series of shocks to quality of life, including a cholera outbreak, a drought and an elephant die-off, as well as a pattern of small-scale fighting over pasture. Most of this is caused or exacerbated by climate change, and you can see how they’d add up to larger clashes. It makes me wonder – maybe this is one more picture of what global warming looks like?